Agamemnon

Clytemnestra Character Analysis

The queen of Argos, and its ruler in her husband Agamemnon’s absence. She murders Agamemnon to avenge the death of their daughter, Iphigenia, whom Agamemnon sacrificed during the Trojan War to ensure his fleet’s passage into Troy. She also murders Cassandra, Agamemnon’s concubine. Clytemnestra is decisive, resolute, and aggressive, and her femininity is often called into question. However, she is able mask her anger in public moments in order to carry out her revenge plot. The nobility of her revenge is complicated by her affair with Aegisthus.

Clytemnestra Quotes in Agamemnon

The Agamemnon quotes below are all either spoken by Clytemnestra or refer to Clytemnestra. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Revenge Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Harvard University Press edition of Agamemnon published in 1926.
Lines 1-354 Quotes

CHORUS
Is this report reliable? Is there proof?
CLYTEMNESTRA
Of course there is. Unless some god deceives me.
CHORUS
Has some vision persuaded you of this,
something in a dream, perhaps?
CLYTEMNESTRA
Not at all.
As if I’d listen to some dozing brain.
CHORUS
Perhaps some unfledged rumour raised your hopes?
CLYTEMNESTRA
Now you’re insulting my intelligence,
as if I were a youngster, just a child.

Related Characters: The Chorus (speaker), Clytemnestra
Page Number: 271-276
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lines 355-782 Quotes

Some time ago I cried out in triumph,
rejoicing when that first messenger arrived,
the fiery herald in the night, who told me
Troy was captured and was being destroyed.
Some people criticized me then, saying,
“How come you’re so easily persuaded
by signal fires Troy’s being demolished?
Isn’t that just like a woman’s heart,
to get so jubilant?”

Related Characters: Clytemnestra (speaker)
Page Number: 586-593
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lines 783-1033 Quotes

Daughter of Leda, guardian of my home,
your speech was, like my absence, far too long.
Praise that’s due to us should come from others.
Then it’s worthwhile. All those things you said—
don’t puff me up with such female honours,
or grovel there before me babbling tributes,
like some barbarian. Don’t invite envy
to cross my path by strewing it with cloth.
That’s how we honour gods, not human beings.
For a mortal man to place his foot like this
on rich embroidery is, in my view,
not without some risk. So I’m telling you
honour me as a man, not as a god.
My fame proclaims itself. It does not need
foot mats made out of such embroideries.
Not even to think of doing something bad
is god’s greatest gift. When a man’s life ends
in great prosperity, only then can we declare
that he’s a happy man. Thus, if I act,
in every circumstance, as I ought to now,
there’s nothing I need fear.

Related Characters: Agamemnon (speaker), Clytemnestra
Related Symbols: The Purple Tapestries
Page Number: 915-930
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lines 1034-1330 Quotes

But we’ll not die without the gods’ revenge.
Another man will come and will avenge us,
a son who’ll kill his mother, then pay back
his father’s death, a wanderer in exile,
a man this country’s made a stranger.
He’ll come back and, like a coping stone,
bring the ruin of his family to a close.
For gods have made a powerful promise—
his father’s stretched out corpse will bring him home.

Related Characters: Cassandra (speaker), Agamemnon, Clytemnestra, Orestes
Page Number: 1279-1287
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lines 1331-1675 Quotes

Before this moment I said many things
to suit my purposes. I’m not ashamed
to contradict them now. How else could I
act on my hate for such a hateful man,
who feigned his love, how else prepare my nets
of agony so high no one could jump them?
I’ve brooded on this struggle many years,
the old blood feud. My moment’s come at last,
though long delayed. I stand now where I struck,
where I achieved what I set out to do.
I did all this. I won’t deny the fact.

Related Characters: Clytemnestra (speaker), Agamemnon
Page Number: 1373-1380
Explanation and Analysis:

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CHORUS

O that some Fate would soon come,
free from suffering and quick,
bringing endless sleep,
our last eternal sleep,
now our gracious lord is dead.
For a woman’s sake
he suffered much, and now
by a woman’s hand he died.

Alas for you, Helen, frantic woman.
On your own, beneath Troy’s walls,
you slaughtered many lives,
and more than many.
Now you wear your final garland—
one long remembered for the blood
which will never wash away.
Back then in this house
lived a spirit of strife,
a power that broke our king.

CLYTEMNESTRA
Don’t torment yourself like this, invoking
death and fate, or redirect your rage
on Helen, as if she killed those men,
all those Danaan lives, all by herself,
and brought us pain past remedy.

Related Characters: Clytemnestra (speaker), The Chorus (speaker), Agamemnon, Helen
Page Number: 1448-1468
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Clytemnestra Character Timeline in Agamemnon

The timeline below shows where the character Clytemnestra appears in Agamemnon. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Lines 1-354
War and Its Aftermath Theme Icon
Fate and the Gods Theme Icon
...done, as he has been stationed there for a full year. The queen of Argos, Clytemnestra, has instructed him to watch for a signal fire from Troy. The signal fire would... (full context)
Gender Roles Theme Icon
The Watchman feels that Clytemnestra has unsettlingly masculine qualities, and explains that he cannot sleep because of his deep sadness... (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
War and Its Aftermath Theme Icon
Fate and the Gods Theme Icon
...state, cries out that the Trojan War is over, and he jumps up to inform Clytemnestra. Then his mood changes abruptly as he wishes Agamemnon a safe return, and once again... (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
War and Its Aftermath Theme Icon
Fate and the Gods Theme Icon
...Troy. In order to appease Artemis, the army’s prophet suggested that Agamemnon sacrifice his and Clytemnestra’s daughter Iphigenia, and Agamemnon did so. The Chorus then finishes by reminding us that these... (full context)
War and Its Aftermath Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
The Chorus implores Clytemnestra to tell them what has happened, and she gives them the good news that Agamemnon’s... (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
War and Its Aftermath Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Fate and the Gods Theme Icon
Clytemnestra describes to the Chorus the system of signal fires that was used in order relay... (full context)
Lines 355-782
Revenge Theme Icon
War and Its Aftermath Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Clytemnestra appears and scolds the Chorus for not believing her about the war’s end earlier. She... (full context)
Lines 783-1033
Revenge Theme Icon
War and Its Aftermath Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Fate and the Gods Theme Icon
As Agamemnon begins to descend from the chariot, Clytemnestra stops him and addresses the crowd. She recounts the intense grief, worry, and suicidal thoughts... (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
War and Its Aftermath Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Fate and the Gods Theme Icon
Agamemnon chides Clytemnestra for speaking too much and refuses to walk on the tapestries, telling her that this... (full context)
Lines 1034-1330
Gender Roles Theme Icon
Fate and the Gods Theme Icon
Clytemnestra comes out of the palace and orders Cassandra to descend from the chariot and go... (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
Fate and the Gods Theme Icon
...she senses that the Furies are at work initiating revenge. She then sees herself as Clytemnestra’s second victim. Although she seems ecstatic and her words are unclear, Cassandra’s prophecy seems to... (full context)
Lines 1331-1675
Revenge Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
The palace doors open, revealing a blood-soaked Clytemnestra standing over the dead bodies of Agamemnon and Cassandra. Clytemnestra openly confesses to killing Agamemnon... (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
The Chorus calls Clytemnestra ambitious and arrogant. Unfazed, Clytemnestra interrupts them and goes on to reveal that Agamemnon’s cousin... (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
War and Its Aftermath Theme Icon
Gender Roles Theme Icon
...and connects this murder to all the destruction that the Chorus blames Helen for inciting. Clytemnestra comes to Helen’s defense, saying that Helen did not kill anyone herself. But the Chorus... (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
Fate and the Gods Theme Icon
Clytemnestra continues to justify her revenge to the Chorus and admits no guilt for the murder.... (full context)
Revenge Theme Icon
War and Its Aftermath Theme Icon
Fate and the Gods Theme Icon
Aegisthus threatens the Chorus with his soldiers, but Clytemnestra stops the moment from escalating into more violence. As Aegisthus and Clytemnestra enter into the... (full context)